Beginning in September 2016, all Jarvis students will have access to Jarvis Middle School’s project-based learning and STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math) curriculum.
In the past, one half of students in grades 6-8 and just one class in grade 5 had the opportunity to participate in STREAM.
“The change balances opportunity for all students across all grade levels,” said Jarvis principal Melissa Hoskey.
“Every student will now have access to the same learning activities, especially activities proven to engage students like project-based learning.”
Project-based learning (PBL) prepares students for real world experiences they will face in their future education or careers. It asks students to use multiple disciplines to tackle bigger challenges.
“No employer is going to ask an employee to solve a math problem. The employer is going to give the employee a problem and expect the employee will use math along with English or science or art skills to find a solution,” said Mrs. Hoskey.
Those skills are not limited to traditional subjects. PBL includes communication, cooperation, and collaboration, soft skills that employers now demand.
A great example of PBL is Jarvis’ annual soapbox derby car project. Teams of students use a full range of skills from math and science to writing and communication. Students solicit local businesses to underwrite the cost of materials, then research those businesses to design and build cars that reflect the business and the products or services they offer. Teachers guide students throughout the process, but expect them to work out their own solutions.
Mrs. Hoskey said she has given her staff a lot of autonomy in deciding the number and size of the projects for the coming year. Each grade level will have at least one project each semester. The details of those projects are still being discussed, but she said they will all be tied more directly to learning standards.
“We don’t want to do projects just because they are fun,” she said.
“Each project will be specifically designed to align with the curriculum at each grade level. Yes, we want students to enjoy the work, but we want them to learn in the process.”
She stresses that fun is still a big part of PBL.
“We are trying to reconnect students with relevant content. We want to give them what they need and make it interesting. If we do this right, this is a reason for every student to want to get up and come to school,” she said.